Madurai. More the change, more the same

A week has passed since I returned from Madurai. I have discovered that such trips have unintended outcomes. Far different from the ones that were the stated. This post seeks to capture some images of Madurai. Images from the eyes of an outsider who was once an insider ! An inside-out view. Perhaps an outside-in view !

The city where I grew up now seems to be bursting at its seams. While I am part of the gang that causes other cities like Mumbai to burst at their seams, the fact that Madurai seems to be going through a similar transition is ‘interesting’ to say the least ! The city seems to have gotten louder. They are mile away, but still blare their loud horns with a seeming sense of urgency of a dissident MLA reaching the governors house to pull down a government! Or, am I suddenly experiencing the horns to be loud ?

The city walls & vertical spaces seem to hold more intense pictures of happiness than the ground below. Faces of all hue, shapes and sizes stare at you. Announcing some ceremony or the other at home. A child is getting her head tonsured. A girl has become a woman. Somebody else is getting married. Yet another has passed away. Lifes various stages can be seen on Madurai’s canvas !

Somewhere inbetween there is Thirukural with explanations from Karunanidhi the CM also peep into the eye space. I look bemused. The old sage and his couplets are relevant at this jet age ! I am not sure how many read his works but calling out his name evokes a tamizh pride they say. Now, I am not the one to ascribe meanings to this effort from the government to popularize Thirukural.

In my growing up days, I remember the good old Pandian Roadways Corporation (PRC) buses. They used to be painted a flamboyant silver. I sometimes think that my wonder years & the PRC buses demised at the same time. Nowadays you have ‘minibuses’ which are predominantly fluorescent green in colour.

Other buses are pink. Others are a deep orangish fluorescent red. God knows where these colours come from. But those are the colours that stay with me, as I close my eyes and think of the town in the modern day avatar.

And by the way Double DVD is de rigeur feature in most inter city buses. With two TVs and some ‘comedy’ scenes replayed endlessly. I think these buses will get Guinness record for maximum replays of the same scenes. After Sun TV that is. If you are traveling to this side of the country, this is a ‘must experience’ feature!

Of all the sounds that would punctuate the night air would be the sound of hot iron on the tawa. Making Kothu Parotta ( Minced Parathas). Made from maida and filled with oil, lipsmackingly tasty and ofcourse, guranteed to sit on your lips for a couple of minutes and on your hips for a lifetime. The clang of metal through the maida & oil continue to puncture the night air. With a renewed vigour that would give Mumbai traffic noises a serious run for their money !

The city has changed. But the essence remains. Perhaps reflective of my eyes. And perhaps my soul. More of the change and more of the same !

The temple. Oh yes, the temple was in a training program. I mean a refurbishment of sorts. The chitrai festival is to hit the city in 20 odd days. And arrangements were on a full swing.

More of the change. More of the same !!

Its a flat world !

Prices of apartments and land have sky rocketed in every Indian city i know ! Well, sky rocketed is a very modest term at that. With every inch of land being occupied, disputed, bought, rented or invested in. The latest in the series being, ‘taken over by the government’ !!
I remember doing an in depth analysis of Kenichi Ohmae’s book “A borderless world” as a management grad. One of those themes, back then, that used to occupy my mind was a truly borderless world. We seem to be getting there !

“In the last two years around 500 Indians, a number of whom are said to be agriculturalists from Chandigarh and the northern region, have registered themselves for the ‘Malaysia, My Second Home’ ( MM2H in short) venture that is being sponsored by the Malaysian Tourism Board.

Under the scheme, the Malaysian government allows tourists to invest into the country’s real estate market. It’s simple, just pick a home ( either in the heart of the city or an island), pick your price ( in upwards of Rs.18 lakh) and voila ! You have a home for yourself….” Times of India. Bangalore, May 1st, ’07.

The logic seems to be that people who settle will invariably visit the country. Thrown in are a 5 year visa and such other benefits. I am sure the Malaysian government has got its calculations right, given our battalion of relatives & friends !

The concept seems alluring isn’t it. Some of my friends who wanted to invest in a second home found it a struggle to find a decent apartment under Rs. 40 lacs, in Bangalore. But hey, now there is Malaysia !

I was all set to close this post, when my wife chipped in with this news. Dubai beckons too. Giving you a permanent residential visa on buying a flat over there. ( Coupled with interest free loans et al ) !

When it comes to flats, i guess the world is turning ! And getting truly flat !!

I chanced upon today’s music in You Tube. Japanese kids dancing to a Tamil film song. The synchrony kept me riveted & i had to share ! The borders just didn’t seem to exist !